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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nole contract extension...odd indeed!

According to the editorial in today’s Observer Dispatch, OUR VIEW: New Hartford school board off base:
The decision came in a particularly odd way last week when one board member was rousted from her sick bed in order to secure a fourth “yes” vote, which proved the deciding factor.
There is obviously more to the story than what the school board wants the public to know!

Nole's contracts

Shortly after each of Nole's contracts and amendments were signed, we FOILed the documents. The process for Nole’s contract to be extended is spelled out in each of the contracts with a slight modification of contract extension dates in the 2010 amendment.

According to the first two contracts signed between the NHCS and Nole dated August 13, 2008 and January 19, 2010:
(b) No later than December, 2010 (changed to December 31, 2013 in the 2010 amendment), the Superintendent shall notify the Board, in writing of his desire to remain in the position of Superintendent for an additional year beyond the remainder of the Agreement. Thereafter, within thirty (30) days of such notice, the Board shall meet, in an executive session, to determine whether it is inclined to accept the Superintendent's offer to remain in the position of Superintendent for an additional year beyond the term of the Agreement. The President of the Board shall thereafter, inform the Superintendent of the Board's informal determination. The Superintendent shall have the option to request that the matter of the extension for an additional year beyond the term of the Agreement under this provision be placed on the Board's action portion of the agenda for the next regular meeting of the Board, at which time the Board may take such action as it deems appropriate. If either party fails to exercise their option to extend the Agreement on or before February 28, 2011 (amendment changed date to Feb. 28 2014), the Agreement will expire on its normal expiration date.
Additionally, according to the both contracts Section 3 (c):
(c) Any extension of the term of the Superintendent's employment shall be in the form of an amendment to this Agreement; shall be upon the same terms and conditions as herein set forth, unless otherwise agreed upon, in writing, by the parties; and it shall not be considered that the Board and the Superintendent have entered into the new Agreement, unless expressly stated, in writing, and signed by both parties thereto.
On January, 7, 2010, the amendment that was signed between NHCS and Nole changed the dates for Nole to notify the board of his desire for an extension to December 31, 2013 and the date for both parties to act on the extension to February 28, 2014 as noted in red print above.

Did the NHCS Board and Superintendent Nole comply with all the dates in his contract?

We would have to FOIL the school for a copy of any letter sent by Nole to the school board asking for an extension of his contract to 2016, if one exists. However, we wouldn't receive an answer until sometime in April because the school has a standard FOIL reply:
Consistent with Section 89 of the New York Public Officers Law, the District hereby acknowledges receipt of that request. Access to the requested records will be determined in accordance with this section of the law and the determination will be made within 20 business days. If we are unable to make that determination within that time, you will be notified of the same and of the date by which the request will be granted in whole or in part.
Of course, that reply is not consistent with Section 89 of the NY Public Officers Law, but the school doesn’t seem to care.

We aren’t going to wait twenty (20) days to see if a letter exists, so instead… for argument’s sake, let’s suppose that Mr. Nole sent a letter to the NHCS Board on the last possible date his contract allowed, December 31, 2013.

According to his contract, the school board would have had to meet in executive session to discuss Nole’s request for an extension within thirty (30) days and the school board president would then notify Nole of their decision.

After December 31, 2013, the next school board meeting was on January 14, 2014 and there was no other meeting until February 4, 2014. The February meeting would have been beyond the thirty (30) allowed by Nole’s contract so the board would have had to call an executive session to discuss the extension at the January 14, 2014 school board meeting or they would have needed to call a special meeting. There was no special meeting called.

For argument's sake, let’s suppose that the Board President, Ms. Luker, did in fact call an executive session to discuss Nole’s contract extension at the January 14, 2014 meeting. According to the contract, Nole had the option to place the extension on the Board's action portion of the agenda for the next regular meeting of the Board which would have been February 4, 2014.

No such item appeared on the agenda for the meeting of February 4, 2014, nor was there any public discussion of the contract extension at that meeting. Why not? If Nole actually sent a letter requesting the extension, why wouldn’t he put it on the agenda as an action item as soon as possible after the executive session was held instead of waiting until three (3) days before the “drop-dead” date of February 28, 2014 in his contract?

What is really going on here? Is there disagreement between Nole and the school board? Was Nole hoping to get a more lucrative contract and when that failed, he realized he was up against a deadline and acquiesced at the last minute hoping an additional year would give him more time to negotiate for what he wants?

Remember, we used December 31, 2013 as the possible date of his letter to the board, but what if he wrote a letter even before that date or what if he failed to even send a letter to the board. That would make it even more intriguing as to what is going on.

Bottom line...

We can go on and on and speculate about what was being done behind closed doors. However, two board member terms expire this year. Get out and vote!

Better yet, go to the school and get a copy of the petition needed to run for a spot on the school board. You only need thirty (30) signatures. Board member Flemma could use a little backup; he is the only one willing to speak out against the chicanery going on at the New Hartford Central School Board table.

Seats open on the New Hartford School Board

Nole’s contracts and amendment:

Nole contract 2008-2011

Nole contract 2010-2012

Nole contract amendment 2012-2015

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